Many who were 10 to 14-year-old kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s will remember the Choose Your Own Adventure game books which took young readers on adventures where they made choices that would determine the ultimate outcomes of their stories. The readers were the main characters in these books and they searched for secrets and treasure or experienced strange things happening in their worlds until a choice led to an ending that maybe tied everything up, left things in the air, led to some strange and horrible death, or made loops throughout the book where no ending naturally came.
Though the heyday of these books has seemingly passed, The Rakyat Post reported, Jan. 18 that via Twitter, the Choose Your Own Adventure genre has taken another form. Instead of pages, readers can click their way through winding paths of Twitter accounts which lead them through many scenes that are, despite the 140 character limit, creepy.
According to Motherboard, “A Dreadful Start” takes players through 23 different Twitter accounts, some of which have posts from this month, others, with posts dating five to seven years ago. That in and of itself lends to some of the creepiness as the game first appeared on Twitter, Jan. 11 of this year. Another creepy detail is that each of the Twitter pages feature occultish images which gives a foreboding quality to each click of the game.
Below follow spoilers. If you’d like to try to play the game before reading further, then go here. Will you run or will you hide?
There’s no set up to the story. The player just starts, already in the middle of an adventure where monsters are ready to consume and destroy the player. Each player seems to die multitudes of times before they are able to make a choice that allows them to live. When a player has successfully maneuvered through the accounts, they are led to an Amazon page for a horror novel called “The Wanderer.” The book was written by Timothy J. Jarvis and was published late last summer.
While this may seem a little disappointing, the marketing ploy is brilliant. The game was developed by Terence Eden, a mobile developer at The Lab UK, after he had read “The Wanderer.” Eden wanted to try his hand at creating something as eerie as the book he had just read for a bit of a “teaser trailer.”
Eden utilized old Twitter accounts, garnered some from a friend and created more for his story. Each account made up one of the 23 chapters. To make it happen, he had to delete old tweets on defunct accounts and make them new. To piece it all together, he used an online tool called Inklewriter that allows “anyone to write and publish interactive stories.” According to Eden, using the site was much better than trying to deal with a large sheet of paper, post-it notes and string (let alone “an interlinking HTML document).
Brilliant as it is, “A Dreadful Start” is not an original idea. Eden writes on his blog how he came up with the story and notes two other fun Choose Your Own Adventure Twitter games. He also offers tips on how to fine-tune the process in writing such interactive social media games in a seeming invitation for others to play along.